Since it’s been a bit warmer than normal lately, and as we head into the summer months, I want to remind you that our area’s birds have several important needs.
I’ve also invited the owner of a local Wild Birds Unlimited store to this Sunday’s GardenLine broadcast to outline our birds’ four basic requirements and how you can help. Be sure to tune in for the 8 a.m. hour.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in attracting birds to your yard and keeping them comfortable, please remember what they need:
- WATER — It's the most important. And providing it is the most effective way to attract the widest variety of birds to your backyard. Not all birds eat seeds, but they all need water. Moving water is the most attractive, and a dripper or Water Wiggler will create ripples on the surface so birds will notice it. Movement also makes mosquitoes think water is not stagnant, so they won't lay eggs in it.
- FOOD — A study by Millikin University in Illinois found that birds with access to supplemental feeders are healthier than those without them. Wintertime is when most people think about providing food, since it can help in periods of extended cold and wet weather. But providing food year around is important. In the spring, nesting birds need to find food quickly so they don't have to leave the nest for too long. In the summer, it's exciting to watch parents bring their chicks to the feeders. And providing high-protein foods in late summer helps birds develop healthy feathers as they molt. Feeder visits often slow down in fall, but can be fun to watch hummingbirds migrate through the area in September. And winter residents begin showing up in October and November.
- NESTING — Birds need places to raise their young. Some, such as Carolina wrens, Carolina chickadees, purple martins and eastern screech owls, will use nesting boxes. Others will nest in shrubs and trees. Cardinals and mockingbirds will choose shrubs, and blue jays will nest in the trees. Providing nesting spots could bring the enjoyment of watching nesting behavior in the spring and summer.
- SHELTER — Birds have a tough life. They have to find enough to eat while making sure they aren't eaten by something else. Providing thick shrubs will give birds a place to hide from predators and protection from bad weather. Building a brush pile can also give birds additional shelter.
There are now seven Wild Birds Unlimited stores in our region, and they can help you with providing the “Four Basic Needs” that will increase the variety and number of birds visiting your backyard. And they can teach you about specific foods and feeders that are most likely to attract a certain bird or critter. Use the ZIP Code tool at www.wbu.com to find the one nearest you.
PHOTO: Sparrow - Getty Images